Body Shop owner defends selling to L'Oreal

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Body Shop founder Anita Roddick says that the sale of the business
to L'Oreal was the right thing to do, stressing that the French
cosmetic giant is an 'honourable' company to do business with.

Speaking in an interview with UK newspaper The Guardian, Roddick said that the Body Shop had always considered the social premium of its business transactions, which is something that L'Oreal also now wants to embrace.

L'Oreal is currently working to completely eliminate the testing of animals for cosmetic ingredients, as part of efforts to comply with the EU REACH programme, which has meant stepping up research programmes to develop in-vitro and culture testing.

But the very fact that L'Oreal still carries out animal testing as part of its every day business practice has riled many devoted fans of the Body Shop, who had become loyal customers on account of the company's strong ethical stand and anti-animal testing practices.

This resulted in a storm of criticism over the transaction, criticism that Roddick is still facing more than six months after the sale was confirmed.

In the Guardian interview, Roddick says that customers should not be put off by the change of ownership and that L'Oreal is a company to be trusted.

"I believe they are honourable and the work they do is honourable,"​ she said in the interview. "Especially the work they do on sourcing ingredients. I've spent lots of time with their sourcing guys."

Roddick was indeed one of the forbearers of fair trade practices within the cosmetics industry, promising that ingredients suppliers she used in developing countries would be paid at global market rates long before it became fashionable.

So why did she finally sell to L'Oreal? Roddick says the main reason is that she does not want to die rich, instead preferring to do something constructive with the money she has earned during the 30 years she has been in the cosmetics business.

"I think it's an obscenity dying rich and I don't want to be defined by business; after all, we're only remembered for what we do in civil society."

The world's largest cosmetic company, L'Oreal, will acquire The Body Shop - a move that will see it break into new ground as the brand-owner of a business revered for its ethical values.LOreal firmed up the Body Shop acquisition in March of this year, paying a total of £652m ($1.145bn) to secure a majority stake.

The Body Shop has been going through some difficult times in recent years, with its boom period during the 1990s proving a hard act to follow into the new millennium.

Last year some signs of progress were showing following a major image revamp, but lower than expected Christmas 2005 trading in the US and UK markets saw share prices to tumble 20 per cent back in January, leading to further speculation over a possible sale.

At the time of the deal, L'Oreal said that it wanted to still further increase its footprint in the natural and organic cosmetics market, an ambition that was realised last week when it confirmed the acquisition of France-based organic manufacturer Sanoflore.

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